Meat-I get all my meat at Costco. The ribs are great and un-enhanced, meaning they don’t get soaked in a brine solution which can make pork taste really salty, especially if you use a rub with a lot of salt in it. I usually get between a 5-8 lb brisket in the cryovac package. You will read about 2 pieces of the brisket-the flat and the point-I’m not sure if the Costco ones are either the flat or the point or both. I suppose I could ask the butcher, but the ones I have done have been really good, so again, I’ll just go with it. (Restaurant depot brisket is way better if you can get it, or some of your local stuff too I’m sure.)
Prep-Right before I put the meat on I’ll take it out of the fridge and rub it down with a little canola oil to make the rub stick. You can go with a standard BBQ rub, or there are many recipes out there for beef specific rub, usually has a lower sugar content than a standard rub. I liberally coat both sides of the meat with rub and let it sit while my fire is coming up.
Fire-I usually use lump with chunks of hickory. Any wood for smoking is good except maybe mesquite, which is a really strong flavor. I have used apple, maple, hickory, cherry-they are all good. You want to put your chunks on about 10 minutes before your meat goes on.
Cooking-Set up your cooker for indirect at anywhere from 225-325. There are 2 schools of thought: the low and slow crowd, and the hot and fast crowd. I I have done both with good results either time. Yet another variable to play with. I always cook with the fat side down ( I don’t trim the fat beforehand) and put a probe in connected to an external digital thermometer. Once your meat hits about 160-165 in internal temp, I pull it and add a braising liquid. If you want, you can also finish in the oven at this point. I use a throwaway aluminum pan and put the meat in there, along with some kind of liquid that will be absorbed into the meat during the rest of the cook. I have done a couple of cups of beef broth with some Worcestershire sauce and some more rub, microwaved for a minute or so. The last one I did I used a half bottle of Dr Pepper that I let go flat and it came out great. You can play around with this as well-you can use sauce, whatever.
Put the meat back on and keep your probe in, pulling the meat off when it hits between 190 and 200. It may “stall” at around 170 or so, where the temp stays constant for a while, even for an hour or so or more. This is normal, all of the collagens in the meat are turning to liquid which is a good thing. (New tip: The meat is done when a probe or instant read thermometer goes in “like buttah” or with no resistance) When it hits your target temp, pull it and wrap in foil , adding the leftover liquid form the pan. Take the wrapped meat and put it into a cooler and let it rest for at least an hour. You can cover the meat with old beach towels to let the temp come down slowly-the rest is critical because the liquid is re-absorbed into the meat. If you keep the probe in you can serve when it gets around 160 or so. You can even keep it warm in an over for the rest. 60 minutes is the minimum rest though.
Slicing & serving: You want to slice against the grain, or it will be really tough. I usually will slice it in half with the grain, and then slice against for the individual portions. An electric knife works really well for this, but be prepared to shred your cutting board. You can also trim the fat off for those who don’t like it. A good brisket won’t drip with juice but should be tender and have good flavor. It is very easy to dry it out, just add sauce if you need to counter the dry meat. Personally, I like it fresh with no sauce, and reheated with sauce.
Honestly, it is my favorite type of BBQ. It’s lean but has amazing flavor. Here is a link to a ton of opinions on brisket; like I said 100 people have 100 opinions on it.